In Vaccine Development, a Monkey and a Virus: One Million Years Together

The introduction of sequencing and genome comparison tools marked the start of a new period in animal systematics, enabling scientists to achieve greater accuracy in setting up genetic relatedness, which isn’t always reflected in morphology. By comparing genetic data, we would now be able to determine the species boundaries within which genetic diversity is the most reduced.

In this research, the scientists clarified the genetic relationships between the species of African green monkeys, otherwise called vervet monkeys, or vervets. They recognized six species from across Africa, one from Barbados, and one from the Caribbean islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis. However, genome examination is more than a way of refining taxonomies: It can give taxonomies into the development and geographic distribution of species, and also species-specific genetic disorders, and considerably more.

Vervet monkeys are the nonhuman primates most firmly related to humans. They have long been an essential biomedical model, widely utilized as a part of a behavioral research, in research of resistance to virus infections, and in vaccine advancement. Vervets are known to be common hosts of SIV, which is a nearby relative of HIV. Despite the fact that they are regularly infected by the virus, SIV does them no harm: They have evolved the ability to live with the virus and avoid immune system degradation. In one of the two papers detailed here, scientists analyze a group of vervet monkey genes that collaborate with SIV.

The genetic analysis proposed that the first experience of vervets with SIV occurred around one million years back. As time passed, one original host species diverged into numerous, each of which acquired its own genetic adaptations to SIV. Studies of the biological mechanisms involved with host-pathogen interactions in vervet monkeys which gives us a million years of information to “teach” humans to peacefully exist together with the immunodeficiency adaptations virus.

All cells in a single organism carry an identical set of genes. But depending on the tissue and the age of the organism, cells can have different works of active or expressed genes that are in responsible for protein synthesis.

Vasily Ramensky, who works at MIPT’s Genome Engineering Laboratory, associated with his foreign colleagues to make a publicly available map of gene expression in different tissues including four brain regions of 60 differently aged vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) from the Vervet Research Colony.

Compared with human subject research, studies involving nonhuman primates give more reliable and reproducible information for a few reasons: For one thing, the living conditions, diet, and other environmental components are uniform and controlled. Other than that, tissue preparation is standardized and quick. At last, the genetic diversity is lower, because all animals living in a captive colony are descended from a little common ancestral populace.

Ramensky, who holds a doctorate in physics and mathematics and specializes in molecular biology says, “On account of whole-genome sequencing, we have accumulated a lot of data on the genetic material of humans and many firmly related species. In any case, despite everything we don’t know much about the roles that genes play. The atlas we made gives gene expression information across seven tissues and six developmental stages in vervets. For statistical geneticists, it will serve as a tool for understanding the role of genes in the life of the animal.”

For each phase in the animal’s development,multi-tissue gene expression information will help to determine the gene functions and understand the functional and developmental patterns related to this organism. For example, the specialists have demonstrated the direct connection between the age of vervets and the expression of the genes responsible for the advancement and changes in two brain regions to be specific, Brodmann area 45 and the caudate nucleus. The expression of these genes has been connected to age-related diseases.


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